Bklyn Heights will get permanent pool after beloved pop-up closes this year

Bklyn Heights will get permanent pool after beloved pop-up closes this year
Photo by Caroline Ourso

This water won’t run!

A long-awaited pool will soon arrive — and stay — in Brooklyn Heights, inside a paved city park just above Brooklyn Bridge Park, leaders of Brooklyn’s front yard announced on Friday.

And plans for the facility — which will be built and maintained by Brooklyn Bridge Park stewards — couldn’t have been floated at a better time, officials said, because the waterfront green space’s beloved pop-up pool will be drained for good after its seventh year in operation this summer.

“We listened and we’re putting our money where our mouth is,” said Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen, who is also the chairwoman of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation, the semi-private body that runs the park. “Kids around the city are going to be very excited, there’s nothing better than the squeal of delight when they hear they are going to a swimming pool.”

The Parks Department is basically gifting the city-owned Squibb Park on Middagh Street between Columbia Heights and Furman Street — a swath of blacktop from which the zigzagging Squibb Park Bridge runs down to the waterfront — to Brooklyn Bridge Park, so that its leaders can erect the eternal bath on the public pavement.

And if all goes according to plan, the new swimming hole will be ready to dive into two years from now, leaving locals with just one summer without a space to splash, according to a Brooklyn Heights pol.

“We’re really looking to make sure this is available by 2020,” said Democratic state Sen. Brian Kavanagh. “Obviously that’s going to be a big challenge, but we’re hoping to get it done.”

Brooklyn Bridge Park bigwigs expect the pool to cost between $10 and $15 million, and said they’ll pick up one-third of the price tag themselves.

Approximately $1.2 million of the bill will be paid by developers — including local firm Alloy Development, which owns the luxury tower at 1 John St. at the Dumbo end of Brooklyn’s front yard, and is petitioning the city to rezone a plot in Boerum Hill to make way for its massive five-building 80 Flatbush complex.

And the rest of the cash for the bath will be secured by the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy — the green space’s fund-raising and programming arm — which will tap local pols and donors for public and private money, according to the waterfront meadow’s president, who said the permanent pool is a win for those locals who for years feared the loss of their temporary place to cool off.

“As a world-class park, we are always striving to provide the best amenities and activities for visitors,” said Eric Landau.

Neighborhood residents will be invited to share thoughts for the pool and its possible amenities at planning sessions this summer, before Brooklyn Bridge Park leaders issue a request for proposals to build the facility that incorporates those ideas, Landau said.

“When we put out our RFP, the architect who bids on it already knows what the community wants to see — what size pool, how many people can it accommodate, and if there should be other, non-swimming amenities,” he said.

And it’s not the first time people will splash around in the area now occupied by Squibb Park — locals frequented a wading pool there in the 1940s, years before the recreational space was built, according to Landau, who said he’s excited to bring another pool to the spot.

“Before it was even named Squibb Park, there was wading here. We’re not quite sure when the wading pool went away, but it eventually did,” he said. “We’re thrilled to be able to restore that historical context and bring swimming back to this location.”

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Water surprise!: Brooklyn Bridge Park leaders announced plans to build a permanent pool in Squibb Park, which overlooks the waterfront green space.
Brooklyn Bridge Park